Liver Disease Diet: Care Instructions

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The liver does many jobs that are vital to the rest of your body. When something is wrong with the liver, your body may not get the nutrition it needs.

It is important that you eat a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods from the basic food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and protein foods. Follow your doctor's instructions for eating carbohydrate, protein, and fat in the right amounts for you. Your doctor also may limit salt or take salt out of your diet to help protect the liver. Always talk with your doctor or dietitian before you make changes in your diet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Work with your doctor or dietitian to create a food plan that guides your daily food choices.
  • Do not skip meals or go for many hours without eating. If you eat several small meals during the day, you have a better chance of getting the extra calories your body needs for energy.
  • Follow your doctor's or dietitian's instructions on how to get the right amount of protein in your diet. Examples of animal protein are:
    • Meat, fish, and poultry.
    • Eggs.
    • Milk and milk products.
  • Your doctor or dietitian may ask you to eat a certain amount of protein that comes from plants (rather than protein that comes from animals). You can get plant protein from foods such as:
    • Cooked dried beans and peas.
    • Peanut butter, nuts, and seeds.
    • Tofu.
  • Limit salt, if your doctor tells you to. This will help prevent fluid buildup in your belly and chest, which can cause serious problems. Salt is in many prepared foods, such as bacon, canned foods, snack foods, sauces, and soups. Look for reduced-salt products.
  • Your doctor may recommend vitamin and mineral supplements. However, do not take any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products, without talking to your doctor first.
  • Do not drink any alcohol. It can harm your liver. Talk to your doctor if you need help to stop drinking.
  • If you have a loss of appetite or have nausea or vomiting, try to:
    • Stay away from foods and food smells that make you feel worse.
    • Avoid greasy or fatty foods.
    • Eat food that settles your stomach when it feels upset. Try crackers, dry toast, or ginger (ginger tea, hard ginger candy, or crystallized ginger).

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.